I was 16 when I was forced to marry a stranger and move from the United Arab Emirates to Canada. Over the next decade, I was isolated, humiliated and assaulted. The whole time, I was planning my escape
In 1999, in Abu Dhabi, Samra was a brilliant 16-years-old student of grade 11, dreaming to go to a foreign university to pursue higher studies. Her only fault was that she was tall and extremely good looking – she was a dream bride. Hence when the proposal from a ‘well settled boy in Canada’ arrived, it was difficult for her working class parents to refuse. Eldest of four daughters, the parents thought this would give her a great opportunity to go aboard and pursue her dream, under the safety of her husband and in-laws.
The in-laws reassured their support too. However, once married and in Canada, things changed. She was told, “The atmosphere in high schools is not good, and hence it is better to not be thankless and stay happy at home.” Samra refused to give up though and completed her high school courses through distance learning. Despite being a mom at the age of 18, she excelled in her high school exams and got accepted to the University of Toronto. Her husband, however, refused to support her and his good financial status left her ineligible for university loans. She tried to convince her in laws for three years but to no avail. It was not just her education; she was under strict vigil all the time. She was not allowed to leave the house, had no cell phone and was not allowed to learn how to drive. She never had a penny on herself and was constantly abused and neglected.
Samra had not visited her parents for five years. The first time she went back was when her father sent tickets for Samra and her daughter. When she was leaving, she asked her husband fora meagre $10 so that she could have some coffee and buy some chocolate for her daughter during their transit stop at Heathrow Airport. He just snarled at here and said, “Ask your father for that too.” She had left and did not intend to come back, but her husband begged her to return with a promise that he would change and that she will be allowed to study this time; he said that he realised he could not live without her. Reassured, Samra returned, only to know that once she got pregnant the second time, the physical abuse was to became worse.
Samra revealed that,
“After a decade of physical, financial, psychological and emotional, abuse it was only in the summer of 2011, that I finally had the courage to go to the cops and give a detailed, date by date account of the abuse I faced, along with the evidence.”
As a result, her husband was arrested on four counts of assault. Despite two court cases, three jobs and two children, she continued to excel in her studies and became head teaching assistant. Today, Monday June 10, 2013, at the official convocation of the prestigious University of Toronto, Samra will not only be awarded a Bachelors degree in Economics, but she will also be awarded the prestigious Top Student Award in Economics. She also has to her credit a dozen more awards given to her for her academic excellence in the past four years, including the prestigious John H Moss Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a single student in the entire university (all three campuses). She has also been admitted to the PhD program in Economics at the University of Toronto, with a full scholarship.
Click here for a full first hand account of her story.
Free Yourself Global
At Transcendent Media Capital, we are a global media production company invested in effectuating social change. We partner with NGO’s, enterprises and filmmakers worldwide to create social or ecological products and campaigns that make a real and sustainable change for global issues. One of our current main projects is Free Yourself Global. This campaign, “Free Yourself Global: Healing Families; Ending Domestic Violence”, is the first interactive global domestic violence campaign incorporating social media, web and podcast series, short films, feature film, a photo book and music benefit concerts. We are also building a fully animated and interactive digital platform to assist in transforming domestic violence worldwide. This campaign explores the enculturation of violence through families across the globe, and how does one, whether the abuser or the abused, interrupt the pattern of violence? Our initiative hopes to bring together all of the voices of the participants of domestic violence, so whether you are a recovering abuser, victim/survivor and/or professional who works to aid in this cause, we want to hear your story. You can share it with us on social media using the hashtag #FreeYourselfGlobal or anonymously here, via our website.
For more info on how you can choose to tell story and how it will be used to help other people in need, or to learn how to become involved in other ways with this breakthrough campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To simply keep up to date on our campaign and the latest news pertaining to domestic violence worldwide make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.